Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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How to fire your low quality clients and grow a rewarding business

Professional marketing is not just about attracting new clients.  It’s about attracting high quality clients; the kind of people or businesses you want to work with, value your work and who pay you accordingly.

Low quality clients from ineffective marketing

The challenge here is that many small businesses do not market their services correctly.  As a direct result, they often end up working with low quality clients.  These typically include:

  • Clients who pay them too late and cause cash flow problems.
  • Clients who pay them too little.
  • Clients who clearly grab more of their time and energy than they pay for.
  • Clients who are just a total pain in the ass to work with!

In an effort to get money in, these business owners feel pressured into accepting almost any clients who come their way.  In doing so, they take a short-term decision, which usually leads to long term problems that reduce their chances of business survival, let alone success.

Working in a business with a low quality client list can be pretty soul destroying too.  It’s also not uncommon for your worst clients to be your most demanding clients.  I have often seen businesses, where 50% of their time is spent on the worst 10% of their clients.

When I first start working with a new client, I make it a priority to redesign their client list, so they can fire their over-demanding, unappreciative and bad paying clients.  Today, I am going to suggest that you consider doing the same.  I recommend you start developing a marketing plan to rid yourself of your lowest value clients and replace them with the profile of client that is best suited to your business goals.

One in. One out

I have heard respected business leaders telling small business owners to fire their lowest value clients today.  I think these experts sometimes forget what it’s like running a small business and that if some small business owners were to take their advice, they would go broke within 30/60 days.  This is why I recommend replacing clients, one in, one out.  When your improved marketing generates a high quality client, you fire your worst client; until you have developed a client list based on the ideal profile for you and your business.

The challenge here is that you have to change your current marketing, if you want to improve the calibre of clients you attract.  If you repeat the same kind of marketing errors, which led you to attract your existing low value clients, you will simply be swapping low quality clients for new, low quality clients.

If you are not sure about exactly how to start attracting the best clients, you can either try and learn how to “do it yourself” or you can save a lot of time and a massive amount of money, by hiring a marketing professional who already knows exactly what you need to do and will work with you to make it happen.

The bottom line:  Hoping that things will just get better isn’t a strategy.

Photo: aflcio

What do YOU do when it rains?

It’s raining!

  • One person walks down the street, notices the rain has started and begins complaining.  They moan to themselves that they are going to get soaked, as they seek shelter.
  • Another person notices the rain and is thankful.  This person also takes shelter, but is happy that their garden is finally getting some much needed rain.

It’s raining on both these people, yet the way they respond is completely different.

The next time you experience some dark clouds, consider looking for the seed of opportunity, which is almost always there.

We may not be able to stop it raining on us, but we can certainly control how we choose to respond.

Photo: lalves

How to win in a world full of failing businesses

Hey Jim: Can you tell me how to do the wrong thing, correctly?

You would be amazed how many times every week, someone asks me that question.  No, they don’t use those exact words, but they are asking me to tell them the right way to do something, which is incorrect.  Most commonly, they will have started a business in a niche, where there are already established operators and where they are offering nothing new, then ask me how to market their poorly thought out offering.

Here’s the thing:  The best marketing in the world is no match for a poorly thought out product or service.

You can’t out Amazon, Amazon

Opening an online book store today, when Amazon already owns the marketplace, is not a wise move for a small business owner.  You can’t expect Bob to stop using Amazon to buy his books, then to go to your site and go through the hassle of setting up a new account, even though he already knows and trusts Amazon.  He’s never heard of you, you are offering nothing different from his existing, trusted provider and that makes it extremely hard to get him to switch.  You may convince a small number of people to join you, but as U.S retail giants Walmart even discovered; “You can’t out Amazon, Amazon!”

If you have a business idea, which is just like something an established brand offers, you will struggle.

A better combination

A wiser approach is to develop a product or service that is significantly better (in ways your prospective clients will value) than what’s already out there; then market it as effectively as possible.

It takes more creativity than copying what someone else is doing, but the rewards are infinitely better when you do the right things, correctly!

It’s holiday time on Jim’s Marketing Blog

One of the wonderful things about blogging, is that you can write posts and then set them up to be published at a later date.  So, even though I am enjoying a wonderful, 7 day break with my family starting today, you will still see posts published here next week.

During my break, I won’t be hanging out in the comments section.  So, please take that into account if you direct a comment for my attention.

I hope you enjoy the posts I have lined up for you next week and I look forward to sharing some exciting news with you when I return!

Photo: dimnikolov

How can calories help your marketing and boost your profits?

If you want to earn a premium fee for your services, you need to provide a premium experience and market that experience.

I call this idea; marketing the EXPERIENCE rather than the CALORIES.

Allow me to explain.

Experience and calories

The reason there are restaurants that can successfully charge 5 times as much as others, is because people are not paying these top venues for the calories.  They can get the calories from Burger King for pennies.  People are paying for the experience; great atmosphere, sumptuous food, incredible service etc.

The lawyer in your town who charges the least for their time, is usually as qualified as the lawyer who charges the most.  Using the restaurant example, you could say they both offered the same calories.  The bargain basement lawyer is selling his services based on the calories.  The lawyer who attracts the best clients and the highest fees, sells her services based on the experience; outstanding service, quality of staff, speed of client responses, exceptional reputation etc.

The bottom end of the market is fee / price sensitive:  Those who target this market segment, are always looking for ways to shave a penny here and a penny there off their costs, so they can get their sale price or service delivery fee as low as possible.  For those who lack the funds to buy a premium product or premium service, this is how they identify value.  They may see the benefit of buying a higher priced, higher quality product or service, but if it’s genuinely beyond their budget, they will go for the best of the cheapest options.

The top end of the market is about experience based value:  It’s about pumping as much value into your services as you can.  It’s about making the best product you possibly can or rendering the highest quality of service you can and always looking for ways to make it better.  A new client recently referred to my marketing services as “Disney quality service”, after the legendary customer service experience Disney are known for.  That’s a wonderful example of the effectiveness of marketing and then delivering a premium experience.

Already offering a premium quality service?

If you are already offering an outstanding service, but find yourself attracting cost-conscious prospective clients, it’s a sign that there is a disconnect between the value you offer and your marketing.  Look at your marketing and see if you are marketing the calories or the experience.

If you are placing too much emphasis on the elements of your service, which the bargain basement guys also provide (the calories), you will attract the wrong people and they will think you are too expensive.  Focusing your marketing on the elements of your service that are outstanding, (the experience), means you are marketing to your strengths and making it easier for the right kind of clients to find and fall in love with your services.

Not offering a premium service?

The reason we see so many average businesses out there, is that very few business owners realise they are average.  Many people are so passionate about their business and their clients, that they are unaware their competitors are just as passionate and trying just as hard.  They then waste years marketing what they think is a premium service, when in reality it has far less market value than that.  It’s average and the fee is slightly above average, making the services look poor value for money.  These business owners blame fee-sensitive prospective clients for their problems, rather than increasing the value of their services and marketing that value correctly.

The bottom line:  If you want to sell a premium service for a premium fee, pump as much value into your services as you can and then market it on the experience, not the calories.

What next?

Here is a special 3 post series, to help you attract the very best clients and the highest fees:

How to attract the best clients and highest fees (Part 1)

How to attract the best clients and highest fees (Part 2)

How to attract the best clients and highest fees (Part 3)

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

photo: vectorportal

Are you commanding attention or demanding attention?

There’s a big difference between commanding people’s attention and demanding people’s attention.

Demanding attention

Most of the small business marketing we see is trying to demand our attention.

  • They send us emails we never asked for.
  • They pester us on social networking sites.
  • They call us in the office when we are busy and sometimes at home when we are relaxing with our family and friends.
  • They interrupt our TV and radio shows with their sales pitches.
  • They pursue us at business events.
  • In short, they do everything possible to demand that we listen to what they have to say.

Demanding attention is all about interrupting us and pushing us.  The problem with that approach is that our natural reaction is to push back.  Just because they demand our attention does not mean we are going to be receptive to them.  Quite the opposite.  For example, if a marketer walks up to you in the street and pokes you in the chest, he will get your attention, but it’s not the kind of attention he wants!

Commanding attention

A smarter approach, is to command our attention.  This is all about earning attention.  People command our attention when they do something that attracts and then either informs or entertains us; sometimes both.  Commanding people’s attention takes work and creativity, but the upside is huge.  That’s because we treat information that has commanded our attention very differently, from information that is trying to demand our attention.

Think of 2 things you will read today.  For example, this blog post and a spam email.

  • The spam email is something you will delete the second it arrives.  That spam message may be in front of you, but there’s no desire on your part to engage with the content.
  • However, you are already over 300 words into reading this blog post.  There’s clearly a lot more engagement here.

In short: When we command the attention of our prospective clients, anything we share with them is received in a far more receptive way, than those who use brute force to demand their attention.

Photo: bldheretic

How do you look?

How good an observer are you?

One of the lessons my mentor shared with me, was the commercial value of being a good observer.  This means observing what’s happening and looking for the beauty or lesson in what you see.  It also means looking at the subtext of conversations and the meaning behind what people say, rather than just the words themselves.

When we look at a person’s actions or words on a surface level, its easy to miss the bigger picture.  For example:

  • Bob may be telling you he’s fine, because he really is fine.
  • Alternatively, Bob may be telling you he’s fine because he’s uncomfortable asking you for the help he desperately needs.

I was prompted to write this post, after something I saw when I went out for lunch last week.

I was in a coffee shop enjoying my shrimp salad, when I noticed the people on the table next to mine were complaining about how long it was taking them to be served.  However, when the waitress brought their order and asked, without even making eye contact, if everything was OK, they said “Yes.”  As soon as she left their table, they carried on complaining about the service.

The message below the words

If the waitress in that example simply listened to what these diners said, she would have thought everything was fine.  If she observed the situation more deeply, she would have been able to tell very quickly that they were less than happy.  Their tone of voice, body language and lack of engagement were shouting out how displeased they were.

If you want to really know what your clients, customers and contacts are thinking or what additional help they may need, it pays to invest the time required to be a better observer.

The bottom line:  Business is all about people, which makes the development of our people skills an essential part of our toolbox.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: neogabox

Are you making this common mistake when selling your services?

How much do you charge per hour?

The reason I ask you this, is that I have a suggestion for you.  If you currently quote prospective clients an hourly rate for your services, I would like you to reconsider.  In my experience, you will almost certainly do a lot better, if you quote based on the value of the result you deliver, rather than how long it takes you to deliver it.

Here’s why:

  • People never pay for the hour.
  • People always pay for the result.

For example:

  • You pay a gardener for cutting your grass and pulling up your weeds, not the 3 hours they spend doing it.  If you were just paying for the hours, it wouldn’t matter whether your grass was cut or not.  If using up the gardeners time was your outcome, you would be fine if he or she just spent those 3 hours looking at the garden or reading a book.
  • You pay the chiropractor for getting you out of pain, not the 30 minutes they spend doing it.
  • You pay the copywriter for the 500% increase in your marketing leads, not the 5 hours they spent writing the marketing pages on your website.
  • You pay the seminar provider for the information they give you, not the day they spend delivering that information to you and the other delegates.

Results based marketing

When you sell your services based on a per hour fee, your income is capped, because the number of hours you can sell each week is capped.  When you sell your services based on the value of the result you deliver, you can increase your income almost infinitely, by learning how to provide results that are increasingly valuable.

Prospective clients appreciate this value / results model, because the hourly rate model rewards incompetence.

If a service provider charges X per hour, there’s an incentive for them to take as many hours as they can.  Equally, the per hour service provider earns less, the more efficient they are.

In short:  Look at what the prospective client wants to achieve and then quote them a fee for you to deliver that result.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: jakeliefer

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